Antifungals influence the immune-related transcriptomic landscape of human monocytes after Aspergillus fumigatus infection
Sci Rep. 2022 Mar 17;12(1):4581. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-08738-4.
The heterogeneity of clinical responses to antifungals in aspergillosis is partially understood. We hypothesized that besides direct antifungal effects, these discrepancies may be related to different immunomodulatory profiles. Human THP-1 monocytes were coincubated in vitro with Aspergillus fumigatus and variable concentrations of voriconazole (0.5, 1 and 2 mg/l), caspofungin (1 and 2 mg/l), amphotericin B deoxycholate (0.25, 0.5 and 1 mg/l) and liposomal amphotericin B (1, 2 and 3 mg/l). After 6 h of coincubation, total cellular RNA was extracted, converted into cDNA, and transcription of 84 genes involved in antifungal immunity was measured through RT-qPCR. The presence of A. fumigatus was the main driver of the global immune-related transcriptomic response. After Aspergillus infection, thirty genes were upregulated, while 19 genes were downregulated. Discrepancies across antifungals were also evident; voriconazole-containing conditions showed similar reaction to natural infection, while the use of liposomal Amphotericin B significantly decreased the inflammatory response. Chemokines (notably CCL20 and CXCL2) and pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL1A, IL1B, IL23, G-CSF) exhibited the most pronounced differences across antifungals. Pattern recognition receptors and adaptor protein transcription were minimally affected. Protein-protein-interaction network analysis showed that IL23A played a dominant role in upregulated genes. Pathway enrichment analysis indicated that cytokine-cytokine receptor integration, TNF signaling pathways and Toll-like receptor pathways were highly involved. This exploratory study confirms the heterogeneous immunomodulatory role of antifungals. Overall, voriconazole appears to maintain an early pro-inflammatory response seen in natural infection. Assessment of immunomodulatory response with clinical response may provide a better rationale for differences observed across antifungals.